August 9, 2013
By Audrey Fraizer
It was a boy and a girl born almost exactly 24 hours apart for EMD Linley-Marie Cummings. And then another girl.
“This was crazy,” said Cummings, of MD Communications in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. “People have been here for years and haven’t had one baby. I was lucky enough to have two.”
Four weeks later Cummings assisted on a third delivery, which can only mean that babies have her number. She was extra lucky to have three.
“I didn’t think this was going to ever happen again after the first two,” she said. “I was so surprised.”
Cummings wasn’t the only one flabbergasted by the events. After all, the MD Communications stork doesn’t dispense all that many babies each year prior to the arrival of first responders. In 2010, the center recorded four, followed by three in 2011, five in 2012, and five so far in 2013. Fellow EMD Jessica Rempel assisted in the delivery of a baby on April 4.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this in the 28 years I’ve worked at MD Communications,” said Director LeeAnn Osler. “It is truly amazing.”
The first two babies the MD Communications dispatcher helped coach into the world arrived on a Friday and Saturday (March 29 and March 30, 2013), and both during the early morning hours, before 5 a.m.; the babies will probably continue to wake up their parents in the months to come.
The third baby, who arrived shortly after midnight on Saturday, April 27, made her debut inside a car pulled over to the side of Highway 16 just outside the tiny rural village of Elstow (population 89 in 2011).
Not only was it unusual for one dispatcher to answer both calls in March one day apart when she was one of four dispatchers on duty, but the deliveries also beat the odds of an ambulance getting there prior to the completion of MPDS Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs). Neither call came from rural areas. The boy and girl were delivered in homes in the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
“Our responders get there so quickly, and that made it even crazier about these calls,” Cummings said.
Before Cummings was able to make it through Key Questions—she was on KQ5 each time—dads on both calls said the disconcerting, “Oh my. I can see the baby’s head.”
“They happened so fast,” she said.
Cummings said the births were intense from her side of the phone, with the baby girl arriving on Saturday adding a little extra stress to her coaching. She wasn’t immediately breathing, but that was remedied within seconds with instructions that dad rub the baby’s back.
“What a relief when the baby cried,” she said.
The baby girl delivered in April on the side of Highway 16 was born five minutes before first responders made it to the scene and 15 minutes prior to the arrival of ambulances. The actual delivery, however, went quickly, Cummings said.
“I tried keeping them calm,” she said. “Then all of a sudden he sees the baby’s head. From there it went fast.”
Although the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, Cummings did not flinch. She gave instructions to “Slide your finder under the cord,” and had the dad stretch the cord carefully over the baby’s head (away from the baby’s body).
A towel they had packed “just in case” kept the baby—named Willow—warm, while the shoelace from dad’s boots was used to tie off the umbilical cord.
The right place
Maybe it was the alignment of the planets putting Cummings at the right place at the right time. After all, she said the experience “put her over the moon” and this is the place she wanted to dispatch 9-1-1 after graduating from a one-year Public Safety Communications program offered at the Cloverdale Campus of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. MD Communications hired her in February 2012, and she is EMD certified.
“This is what I wanted to do, and I wanted to work at MD Communications,” she said. “I like to help people and I’ve always respected the type of job we do.”
And now that she has three births under her headset?
“I feel relaxed about taking these calls,” she said. “Although, I’ve been told my chair’s being pushed out of the way the next time this happens.”
MD Communications employs 38 EMDs, all of whom are also EFDs. The center is the only Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) in Saskatchewan, having earned its initial ACE in 2000. They process and dispatch medical emergency and inter-hospital transfer calls for 38 ambulance companies, 22 rural fire departments, 150 rural first responder groups, Saskatchewan Air Ambulance, and Corman Park Police Service (after hours). γ
Editor’s Note: Cummings assisted in the delivery of a fourth baby in June, born to a mom who is friends with the mom giving birth in April, and both on Highway 16.